Leaders Need To See and Be Seen

There is a deep human longing to be seen. It is one of the greatest possible gifts to show others that you see them. In the workplace, feeling seen, noticed, and acknowledged by those you admire for who you are and for your efforts is a tremendous motivator.

To really see others we need to be interested, curious, and inquiring. We need to take note. We can do so by tracking others’ concerns and achievements, expressing empathy, and letting others know that we have understood what is important to them.

On the other hand, many people don’t realize that it is also important to make the effort to be seen. Many leaders are already striving hard for business results, measures of success, outputs, and details, and hoping that one day this work will be rewarded and appreciated. “Maybe one day they will see me and get me,” they think.

While modesty can be honorable, it can also go too far. Businesses need new ideas, and a wide range of voices. Withholding our voice out of modesty can stand in the way of progress. For a leader to be seen, they must do more than produce and provide good business results. They must accept bold movement, and also the need to be vulnerable—they must be willing to let people know their opinions and efforts, by speaking up, and stepping forward.

Although many of us would like to be seen without this song and dance, in leadership pushing ourselves out there is an essential requirement.

Seeing and being seen is a co-created process—we all need to make an effort to see others, and we should all also make an effort to be seen. This comes with risks, but also with many rewards.

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